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State senator calls for secretary of state to resign

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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A Rapid City state senator has renewed his battle against South Dakota's secretary of state.

Sen. Stan Adelstein called for Secretary of State Jason Gant to resign Tuesday. Both are Republicans, but their relationship has been icy since Gant took office in 2011.

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On Wednesday, Adelstein asked -- he actually used the word "demand" -- Gant to alter a pamphlet his office issued explaining ballot questions. The senator emailed a letter to Gant and also had a printed copy sent to him.

In the letter, Adelstein said Gant did not list opposing views to the four constitutional amendments on the November ballot in the pamphlet, as is required by state law.

Adelstein also wrote an opposing view to Constitutional Amendment P, which calls for a balanced state budget, which he said should be included in a new pamphlet.

He said the proposed amendment "really weakens" the state Constitution's existing mandate for a balanced budget. Adelstein wants his opposing view printed in the pamphlet, and said Gant should seek out opposing views for the other three amendments as well.

In his call for Gant to resign, Adelstein also said Gant hired a consultant to assist him in the November election and is paying her $10,000 a month, which is $1,585 more than Gov. Dennis Daugaard makes.

Gant hired former Minnehaha County Auditor Sue Roust in August and named her interim elections director. Roust, who served five terms as auditor in the county with the state's largest population is being paid $10,000 per month.

Gant hired her after Elections Director Aaron Lorenzen resigned to take a job in the private sector.

Pat Miller, the wife of former Gov. Walter D. Miller, was hired at the same time as deputy secretary of state.

She replaced Pat Powers, who left the office in July.

Powers has been involved in South Dakota government and Republican politics for 24 years. He was the founder of the conservative blog Dakota War College, where he was a frequent critic of Adelstein.

The senator and the blogger waged a long war of words online and when Powers joined Gant's office, the battle was renewed in Pierre.

This summer, Adelstein said Powers had a conflict of interest by operating his Dakota Campaign Store, which sold political material to candidates, while working for the office that ran the state's elections.

Adelstein also criticized Gant for endorsing candidates in Republican primaries and said the new secretary of state did not understand his role in state government.

After calling for a formal investigation by the state Department of Criminal Investigation, Adelstein met with the top DCI official.

He declined to meet with Gant, however, when the secretary of state went to Rapid City for a discussion in June.

In July, Attorney General Marty Jackley said he saw no grounds for charges.

"Based upon witness information and document review, I concur with DCI's determination that there exists no evidence of state criminal violations within the scope of this investigation," Jackley said.

"The voluminous emails, internet usage and computer files provided no evidence that the activities of Secretary Gant, Mr. Powers or 'Dakota Campaign Store' were in violation of state criminal statutes ... "

But the hiring of Roust at the high salary was another indication of pattern of "deceit" by Gant, according to the senator.

"Has he no shame?" Adelstein said in the Tuesday press release.

There are opposing statements for the two referred laws and the initiative on the ballot, but not the constitutional amendments.

Adelstein, who serves as a lay rabbi, was unavailable for comment Wednesday since it was a high holy day for his faith. It was Yom Kippur, the Jewish "Day of Atonement," when Jews are supposed to avoid work and other activity.

Gant, who was traveling Wednesday, said via text he would reply to questions from The Daily Republic but he did not do so.

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